No Justice, No Peace
The title isn’t entirely misleading. It’s a classic vice versa statement which, like all such statements, was coined and branded in the great Evangelical uprising of my generation. The phrase as it originated was, “No Justice, No Peace; Know Justice, Know Peace.” See what happened there? (Replace ‘justice’ with ‘Jesus’ and you get the Evangelical version.)
So that brings me to today’s piece.
What is the right payback for injustice? And yes, that question ought to sort of smack us right in the mouth. Particularly those of us living in the dilemma of a world gone mad with rage over the minuscule and flippancy at the monumental. We can’t decide what to do with all of our fury most days. And some of it is intensely well-justified and some of it, well, just isn’t.
But the idea of payback? For the Christian? Is that a thing?
Yes, actually, it is. But most Christians don’t believe in justice. Not really. We hamstring the concept well before it ever takes hold anywhere. We gut the idea of justice because we can’t bear this idea that God is either angry or not angry. We just can’t seem to settle on the concept because it requires more thought than Netflix has allowed us.
But I want to try to give you a case in point that is somewhat topical for what happened in the news lately.
Larry Nassar is a human-shaped monster who abused and assaulted and raped hundreds of young girls under the ruse of being a medical professional. Hundreds. Not that ten would have been better, or even one. But the scale of this works quite well to the point I’m after.
How is Larry Nassar going to be repaid?
He’s going to die in prison. As he should. But is that enough? I mean, let’s just take one of these girls for a moment and examine the injustice done.
This girl I will call A because I am cobbling together instance after instance and don’t want to hone in on any one victim of his abuse because I think in many ways that would be dishonoring to the struggle and pain of that particular person.
A was ten years old when she was first sexually abused by Larry Nassar. Ten. She wasn’t a mature young woman. She was operating under an authority figure who had the trust of schools, and professionals, and clubs, and to some degree, even her own parents.
A was sexually abused several times over several years. Now, one thing consistent to sexual assault/abuse cases is that there is no generic half-life for the fallout. There are no statutes of limitations set on the pain and the suffering. You don’t get better in exactly ten years. You don’t wake up on year eleven and breathe in that first air of freedom. No, the implications for A, when she turned 21, were much the same as when she was still actively being abused.
A gets married. The man who marries her is a decent enough guy, but sex with A is difficult and a bit delicate and this may be with his knowledge of her past abuse or not. She might not have been able to tell him. She might not have been to any counseling. She might have been to so much counseling. She might have just pushed her way through, because A is strong.
A hasn’t had a strong relationship with her parents since her abuse. She tried college, but the emotional toll of trying to live life with a sucking wound in her psyche never allowed her to fully engage and she struggled before flunking out. A has had trouble making and trusting new friends. She has had trouble in church because she doesn’t know who she can trust with her secret. Who would believe her?
A’s life, her whole life, will be touched by this abuse. So the question we ask is how many years in prison is enough to pay Larry Nassar back for what he took? Is it a single lifetime per victim? Well that’s an impossible dream for them because he only lives the one time. What about if the state took his life? Would his blood shed be enough to pay back the damage he did? No.
No, even if he was raped, for a lifetime, for each of the rapes he committed, it still wouldn’t be enough because Larry’s not young anymore. He will never balance out that scale. He will not live long enough to be raped enough times.
That’s graphic and brutal, but I want you to come face to face with the fact that Larry Nassar will never see real justice in this life.
Our world mocks the idea of hell. It says that that’s an archaic scare-mongering to keep people in line with religion. It says that a good God wouldn’t send people to an eternity of suffering. That it wouldn’t be the way He rolls. But… but what if the only real justice in the universe can’t be found in eye for an eye?
What if Larry Nassar’s real repayment is yet to come? What about that? God isn’t silent about that evil. He is patient to deal with it, and deal with it in ways we cannot fathom. Do you see that? Do you see that God doesn’t dismiss the evil nor does He punish in such weak and ineffectual ways like letting a man rot in prison?
God is just. What He does is just. And when we hate the injustice, when we say, “Why is it just prison?!” Or death, or torture or whatever, our real question ought to lead us to the only wise King who will deliver justice. He will, in fact, repay.
We must remember the truth that God’s justice is always better than our justice and that, ultimately, He will repay.